by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Department of Energy (DOE) officials withheld information from Congress to advance President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and fired an employee who honestly and thoroughly answered legislative staff’s questions, a congressional committee investigation found.
DOE officials, including Noelle Metting, met with staff from the House Science, Space and Technology and Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees in October 2014 to discuss pending legislation the agency opposed. DOE wanted to suppress information to kill support for the bill, science committee Republicans revealed in a report Tuesday.
Metting was later fired because she “refused to conform to [DOE management’s] predetermined remarks” and provided “candid and complete information” in response to the committees’ questions, the report said.
“Instead of providing the type of scientific information needed by Congress to legislate effectively, senior departmental officials sought to hide information, lobbied against legislation, and retaliated against a scientist for being forthcoming,” Science, Space and Technology committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said in a statement.
The report added: “The DOE’s actions constitute a reckless and calculated attack on the legislative process itself, which undermines the power of Congress to legislate,” the report continued. “DOE’s disregard for separation of powers is … an institutional problem that must be corrected …”
Additionally, retaliating against Metting created a potential “chilling effect,” preventing other scientists from providing forthcoming information to Congress, the report said.